Under West Virginia bills, exposing minors to transgender people could be a crime


Two West Virginia bills aim to protect minors from indecent performances and materials, which the bills define in part, as including exposures or performances of transgender individuals.

Bills introduced this week by state Sen. Michael Azinger, a Republican, would ban obscene and explicit material within 2,500 feet of state schools and prevent children from being present for lewd acts or displays.

The bill’s four-point definition of “obscene matter” is, for the most part, general, and includes material that is of “prurient interest” or that is “objectionable”. But the fourth part of the definition defines “indecent display of a explicit nature” as, in part, “any transvestite and/or transgender exposure, performance or display to a minor.” No other groups or specific types of performance are included.

People who violate the bill governing venues and performances. SB 278, can face a misdemeanor, fines of up to $1,000 and/or jail time. Venues that allow minors to attend performances. That the bill defines as obscene or sexual could face public nuisance charges.

State lawyers say the bills declare transgender existence sexual and harmful to children.

Andrew Snyder, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. A statewide LGBTQ rights group, compared. The bills to Florida’s Educational Rights Act (dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay.” Bill by critics), which “prohibits classroom instruction about sexual orientation” or gender identity. … kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate. Or appropriate for students according to state standards.”

“These bills are like ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ but on steroids,” he said.

“They look like they’re protecting kids from harm. But it’s a ploy to erase LGBTQ people from public life,” Snyder said. “It’s a scare tactic we see all the time, but even scare tactics have a real impact on our communities.”

Jack Jarvis, the group’s communications director. Said they’ve heard from transgender people. Who work in state schools who fear that SB 252 will prohibit them from being in the classroom.

“They don’t know if that means they have to leave the state or quit their job. Or if they’re going to be thrown in jail because they’re trans around a young person,” Jarvis said. “They’re definitely scared, but they’re willing to fight.”

Azinger did not immediately return. Requests for comment on whether SB 252 could affect transgender school. Employees or whether SB 278 would prohibit transgender individuals from performing in any. Capacity in front of minors, including at plays or karaoke nights.

Eli Baumwell, interim executive director of the American Civil.

Liberties Union of West Virginia, described the bills as “unconstitutional.” And “extreme even for this legislature.” He said, do not expect them to be taken in the committee.

“But, the introduction of such draconian laws takes a toll,” Baumwell said in an email. “A recent survey by the Trevor Project found. That 86 percent of trans and nonbinary youth say. That hearing lawmakers debate taking away their rights has affected their mental health. To define a person’s mere existence as ‘obscene’ in law is cruel, harmful and unthinkable. ”

Legislators in other states have introduced similar laws, much of it. Aimed at barring minors from participating in drag performances. Which have come under fire from conservatives. And white nationalist groups over the past year.

For example, a bill in Arizona would must businesses. That host drag performers to be zoned as adult performance venues. It defines a drag performer as “a person who dresses and uses makeup. And other physical markers to exaggerate gender indicators and roles opposite to the person’s sex at birth. And engage in singing, dancing, or a solo or skit to entertain an audience.” Advocates Said that within this broad. Definition is any trans person working in any capacity.

So far this year, lawmakers have introduced more than 120 bills.

Targeting LGBTQ people, according to an analysis by todaystrend News.

In West Virginia, lawmakers have introduced at least 10. One would ban gender-affirming surgery for minors. Even though gender-affirming surgery is rarely performed on minors.

Another West Virginia bill would allow 15% of a city’s voters to revoke. “Any ordinance or provision of city code before enacted by the governing body.” Snyder said the bill, although it doesn’t name LGBTQ issues or people. Could be used to repeal local non-discrimination. Protections for LGBTQ people, which passed in 18 West Virginia cities.

“All our local fairness laws could be at risk,” Jarvis said. “The threshold is so low that all them will be at risk.”

“They’re giving veto power to marginalized elements of any community,” Snyder added.

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